Work better with the 5S Principles

Take a look around your desk, what does it look like? Is it a minimalists dream or does it look like a bomb’s hit it?

If it’s the latter then you may be interested in hearing about the Japanese 5S System – which is a ‘lean’ way of sorting things.

This system applies to your actual working area rather than the way you run your business, but is just as important:

These are the five principles:

1. Seiri: (sorting) Only keep the items that help you work effectively and that you need – otherwise archive, store or get rid of everything else.

2. Seiton: (straighten, set in order) This focuses on the need for an orderly workspace – so a place for everything and everything in its place. Personally I can’t work with lots of clutter around me, I just have a desk tidy, a bottle of water and a solar-powered Flip Flap Plant (a plant I can’t kill). My other bits and bobs like filing trays and folders are out of my line of sight.

3. Seiso: (sweeping, shining, cleanliness) So basically everything needs to be clean as well as tidy in order for you to work efficiently. I use wet-wipes to clean my desk and often hoover my keyboard with a dust buster (I know, anal). Although these are basic house-keeping rules, if your office and desk are dirty then other standards can easily start to slip too. It’s important that everything is always returned to its home at the end of your working day.

4. Seiketsu: (standardising) Work standards and practices should be consistent and easy to maintain. This means that everyone knows exactly what their responsibilities are when adhering to the first three points.

5. Shitsuke: (sustaining discipline) In a nutshell: maintain your standards daily and don’t let things slide!

The key to this system is that things should be maintained daily and as you go along rather than an occasional blitz.

Although it’s not a method that appears to immediately revolutionise your way of working, having a clear, clean, tidy working area is extremely important to both productivity and your approach to your business because if you let your desk or your office go to pot then the rest of your business could easily follow.

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